Anti-Muslim Hindu leader begins 3rd term in Gujarat

A Hindu nationalist leader — India's most divisive politician — was sworn in Tuesday for a third term as the leader of the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Anti-Muslim Hindu leader begins 3rd term in Gujarat

Thousands of supporters waving saffron flags gathered in an Ahmadabad stadium to watch Narendra Modi take the oath of office after his Bharatiya Janata Party swept state elections, defeating the Congress party, which heads the federal government.

Modi did not address the crowd after being sworn in. Instead, he moved around the stadium in an open jeep, touching hands with the throngs of supporters.

The election win has been seen as a personal victory for Modi after a bitter campaign fought in the shadow of anti-Muslim riots that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2002.

Throughout the campaign, Modi cast the election as a referendum on his rule — a tenure best known for the riots, which began after a mysterious train fire killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. Many in India say Modi stood idly by as Hindu mobs killed Muslims, who were blamed for the fire.

Modi has been Gujarat chief minister since 2001, when he was appointed to the post after then-BJP state leader Keshubhai Patel resigned following the party's defeat in by-elections. Modi was elected to a five-year term in 2002, months after the riots, campaigning on an anti-Muslim platform and using images of the burning train in his posters.

While Congress tried to focus the campaign on the riots, Modi chose to highlight the state's economic growth under his leadership — the state reportedly attracted more than 25 percent of India's total foreign investment of $15.7 billion in the last fiscal year.

The election had been viewed as a test of strength for the parties amid persistent talk of possible early national elections.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Aralık 2007, 17:56